272 pages; published February 2010; sequel to Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie
Jeffrey is a cancer survivor who will need all his reserves to now survive what middle school is about to toss his way. Along with his best friend, also a cancer survivor, he has to figure out how to get along now that his older brother has gone off to Africa to learn drumming, what to do about the girl he like who kind of might also like him, and how to deal with the new high-stakes test that make might it impossible for him to get past 8th grade.
Middle school sucks. It sucks more when you’re a pudgy cancer survivor with a limp. And you just found out that the brother you worship basically resents you – so much that he went to Africa to get away from you. And you can’t figure out how to behave around a cute girl (who can?). And your best friend is also a cancer survivor who is surly and weird and stuck in a wheelchair. Then school administration wants to give you a really hard test that makes the difference between passing 8th grade and not passing 8th grade, and math doesn’t make sense anymore because of something that changed in your brain during chemotherapy, so you know you’ll fail the test. And now everyone is just acting weird and you don’t know what to do.
Given the premise, I wouldn’t have thought this would be a funny book, but it’s really funny. Jeffrey tells his story in first person and knows how to find macabre humor in his situation. I was completely charmed.